Directed by Gez Medinger & Robin Schmidt.
Starring Miranda Raison, Sam Keeley, Daniella Kertesz, Elarica Gallacher and Lorna Nickson Brown.
Five strangers wake up on a beach in some sort of netherworld and have to figure out why they are there and what is the mysterious creature that is tormenting them.
Another entry in the FrightFest Presents collection, AfterDeath is a British chiller that begins with a young woman named Robyn (Miranda Raison) waking up on a beach at night. Trying to escape some weird explosions on the beach she runs to a nearby beach house where she interrupts the permanently horny Seb (Sam Keeley) having a threesome with Patricia (Elarica Gallacher) and Livvy (Lorna Nickson Brown) as a smoky spirit flies around the room. Also in the house is Onie (Daniella Kertesz), who keeps disappearing and reappearing randomly, and Robyn soon comes to the realisation that they are all in some sort of purgatory and everybody soon begins to piece together why they are there, working out what they did wrong in their lives. But how do they get back to the living world and what is with the demonic force that keeps pursuing them when certain things are said?
AfterDeath is an interesting, if not entirely original, concept that seems to have stemmed from a drunken conversation that probably began with “Hey, what would happen if…” and was given legs but never fully realised. It draws from a few sources, the most obvious being the Hellbound: Hellraiser II suggestion of a ‘personal hell’ (and it even features a revolving light that has an effect on those in the house, just like Leviathan’s black light), and for the most part has the feel of isolation-themed British horror movies such as Paperhouse, which sets it up well as something we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s not a boring film and the many ideas present try and keep things moving along but it gets to a point where something happens to one of the characters and the mood is totally broken as the film lurches into Doctor Who territory, in both look and feel. To some that may be enjoyable but what began as an intriguing repent-for-your-sins-type concept soon unravels into a silly possession movie where the said victims develop X-Men-style glowing eyes and must overcome their demons, so to speak, with glib statements about their previous lives. Obviously the ideas of committing sins and then repenting for them are open to many interpretations, and AfterDeath is a film of limited means so those ideas aren’t always represented as best they could be, but during the final 15 minutes the film just falls apart under its own lack of logic, debunking any deeper philosophical notions it had when the characters were asking questions of each other in favour of a half-baked ending that offers no satisfaction or even anything open-ended worth thinking about.
With a main cast of only five the film also depends a lot on the characters and the actor’s portrayals and AfterDeath doesn’t score too highly on either front, with Miranda Raison being the most watchable – or the least grating, a more accurate way of putting it – and the other actors simply delivering whatever was written for them, which was apparently an uninspiring list of clichéd character traits and nothing endearing whatsoever.
During the introduction to the film FrightFest head honchos Paul McEvoy and Alan Jones suggest that directors Gez Medinger and Robin Schmidt could be talents to keep an eye on, and to be fair there is something buried deep within this film that could be developed, but whether that’s the basic ideas at play or the general look and execution of the film isn’t clear. Whatever talent is at the heart of AfterDeath, the film itself doesn’t deliver on its early promises and by the end it is a frustrating and baffling, mess.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★/ Movie: ★